Governor Schwarzenegger Finds Another Way to Rob Transit
According to the California Transit Association, the governor wasn't finished. An unexpected budget surplus created a lifeline for transit, and Schwarzenegger was there with the scissors to cut it. The revised budget proposal diverts another $336 million in transit-dedicated "spillover" revenue to instead cover transit bond debt service, which is by law a General Fund obligation.
Since the last time the state created estimates on gas tax revenue this winter, higher than expected revenue from the state's gas tax actually produced a surplus of several hundred million dollars. During the 2007 budget compromises, Schwarzenegger agreed that any spillover would be split 50-50 between the General Fund and the Public Transportation Account. The P.T.A. can be used to fund either capital projects or to restore some of the state's now-missing operating funds.
However, yesterday Schwarzenegger ignored the agreement when he announced that the surplus is going to pay off bond debt and all of the $336 million was going to the general fund anyway before this budget maneuver. Given the contempt the jet-setting Governor seems to have for public transit, it's hardly a surprise that he could "forget" an agreement reached two years ago, nor that he could find a new way to rob transit agencies of funds they've been promised for years. According to the C.T.A., the state has diverted over $5 billion in transit funds over the last decade, $3 billion in the last two years alone.
"It's just more of the same from
a governor whose disdain for public transit has by now been
well-established," said a beleaguered Joshua W. Shaw, Executive
Director of the California Transit Association. "Just when you think
there's nothing left to take, he finds a way to dig the hole even